6th Portland Conservatory Early Music Festival

The 2017 festival features a special guest artist, the marvelous Czech guitarist Petra Poláčková, whose program reflects several elements of the Romantic guitar tradition (and will be performed on a copy of a period instrument).

Ms. Poláčková has been invited to perform at many prestigious festivals in Europe and beyond, including Bonn, Vienna, Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Braga, Madrid, Genéve, Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem, and Cleveland (US Debut in May 2014). This is her first appearance at the Portland Conservatory’s Early Music Festival.

Petra Poláčková performs on a 9-string romantic guitar made by Jan Tulacek, based on Viennese models.

NOTE: All performances take place at Woodford’s Congregational Church
202 Woodford Street, Portland

Each concert will be preceded by a short pre-concert lecture, 
starting 30 minutes BEFORE the performance start times shown below.

Lectures will conclude 10 minutes before concert start to allow for final seating.

Tickets available via Brown Paper Tickets


Friday, 27 October, at 7:30pm
Music for Broken Consort

One of the more lively forms of music popular ca 1600 in England was the broken consort. Unlike a consort of viols or recorders, where all instruments were of the same family, albeit of various sizes, a broken consort consists of instruments of various types, lutes, viols, violins, etc.

The program features music by William Lawes, Matthew Locke, Peter Phillips, Thomas Morley, and Christopher Simpson, among others. Rounding out the program of ensemble works are unaccompanied solo pieces for gamba, lute, and violin.

Featured artists are: Kathryn Sytsma and Todd Borgerding, viola da gamba; Rocky Mjos, lute; Seth Warner, lute; Mary Jo Carlsen, violin; Eric LaPerna, percussion; and Timothy Burris, lute.

A sub-set of this ensemble gave a shorter version of this concert on the St Luke’s Early Music Series, which elicited this review in the Portland Press Herald.

Saturday, 28 October, at 7:30pm
Concert for Two Tenors: Featuring music of Claudio Monteverdi and Heinrich Schütz 

The festival concert for Saturday features a dynamic duo of tenors, Martin Lescault and Timothy Neill Johnson. Supplementing works by the better known names Monteverdi and Schütz are duets by the German Gregor Aichinger.

Continuo accompaniment will be provided by Sean Fleming, harpsichord, and Raffael Scheck, ‘cello.

Sunday, 29 October, at 4:00pm
The art of arrangement: An early music tradition

Lutenists and guitarists– to say nothing of the players of keyboards and other instruments– have a long history of creating arrangements of works originally written for other instruments (or even other genres). J.S. Bach made transcriptions of works by Vivaldi and Marcello, among others. Bach’s Concerto for harpsichord BWV 974 is a transcription of Benedetto Marcello’s Oboe Concerto in d minor, for example. More relevant to today’s program is Bach’s Suite in A Major, BWV 1025, for violin and harpsichord, which is an arrangement of the solo Lute Sonata in A major (Nr 45) by Silvius Leopold Weiss.

Robert de Visée, lutenist at the court of Louis XIV, made numerous arrangements for lute or theorbo of operatic airs, vaudevilles, noëls and so on, and he was far from alone in that practice.

Early 19th-century guitarists continued that tradition, as exemplified by transcriptions of the music of Robert de Visée by Napoléon Coste.

Today’s program by Petra Poláčková brings that practice to life, including transcriptions of works by Silvius Leopold Weiss and J.S. Bach for her 19th-century guitar. Works from Bardenklänge by Johann Kaspar Mertz round out the program.

Click for a live concert performance of the Bach Ciaccona, which will be on the program.

News from last year’s festival:


Allan Kozinn, special to the Portland Press Herald

In Christopher Hyde’s Maine Classical Beat




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